Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Binding and Loosening, How Much Authority Do We Have

During the sermon last Sunday, I addressed Matt 16:19. I thought it might be a good idea to go into a bit more detail on that thought here.

“I will give you th
e keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

The contemporary interpretation of this verse usually goes something like this, "We have been given the keys to the kingdom. Therefore whatever we bind down here will be bound in heaven. We have authority over spirits, demons, gifts,etc." This leads to prayers of a familiar sort for many of us, "I bind the (spirit, demon, etc) of (darkness, evil, depression, heaviness,etc) in the name of Jesus Christ!" This gives the believer tremendous power over his spiritual life. "Let's go zap some demons, guys!"

Or does it?

We need to be careful here! Others have tried this with disastrous results (Acts 19:13-16).

Let's break this verse down into its individual components and then put those components into context within the passage.

First, the keys mentioned are in relation to the revelation that Peter has been given in Matt 16:16. That revelation is that Jesus " the Christ, the son of the Living God". Peter is then told that God will build His church on that singular truth. All the teaching, development and growth of the new church will pour out of that reality. The keys to the kingdom are contained in that revelation.

This revelation, far fro
m being some delegation of unique powers or gifts, is the Gospel. The Gospel is what Christ is building His church upon. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. There will obviously be some power and gifting that flows through all believers in declaring that revelation. Unfortunately, many folks loose their focus on the message of the Gospel and concentrate far too much on the power and gifts, failing to declare the Gospel at all but instead declaring their own authority or power over some situation.

Let's move on to the bi
nding and loosening phrases:

The key to understanding the application of these phrases is in the tense of the two verbs used. The tenses are either future
perfect passive or future passive, depending on whether Luke was writing in the Classical Greek or in Hellenistic Greek, a more contemporary (for his time) style. There is not universal agreement on this issue. In either case, the binding and loosening referred to has already been heaven. Any prayer or declaration that presumes to bind or loosen here on Earth first would contradict this plainly stated truth.

Still, we're in what some may claim to be a gray area here. Depending on how we interpret the material we've covered, there can be multiple meanings and multiple applications. So let's try to bring some clarity for all of us, particularly for those of us who have been taught that we can use this verse to exercise authority over the spirit realm.

Verse 19 has to be taken in the context of Peter's revelation and Jesus' declaration of what that revelation means. The misconceptions about how this verse applies to our daily lives all occur out of lifting it out of context and divorcing it fro
m the passage.

Let me quote from the New American Commentary;

A long and somewhat stalemated debate has centered around the future perfect passive verbs in v. 19. In Classical Greek a reasonable translation of these two verbs (“will be bound” and “will be loosed”) would be “will have been bound” or “will have been loosed” (NIV marg.). Jesus would then be stressing how God’s sovereign initiative is worked out in the church. But in Hellenistic Greek this construction was often roughly equivalent to a simple future passive (as in the main text of the NIV), in which case Jesus teaches that God has delegated his authority to the church, which he leaves to act on its own initiative to bring people into the kingdom, which entrance he then ratifies. A mediating solution, supported by recent linguistic research, may be best with the translation will be in a state of boundedness/loosedness. Jesus’ point, then, will simply be that God promises that all who enter the kingdom do so in accordance with God’s sovereign will, without specifying one way or the other whose action caused whose response. (emphasis mine - jk)
Blomberg, C. (2001). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (255). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

We can actually spend quite a bit more time trying to explain this in more
detail. But, in short, this verse is not about "our authority" over the spirits. It is about our authority to declare the gospel, our authority to declare the forgiveness of sins, our authority to declare divine sovereignty over the Body of Christ and all else in creation, our authority to declare the beauty of the already completed work of God. To use it as justification to "bind" bad spirits and "loose" good spirits or gifts is to place ourselves in a dangerous position.


  1. John -

    As you might expect, I agree to a degree. We (and please underestand I'm not attributing it to you...) always seem to opt for an explanation that eliminates the possibility of the supernatural. John 3:13 is a classic example... The translators couldn't understand how Jesus could be talking to Nicodemus and still be in Heaven at the same time... ["No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."] So they just eliminated the phrase "who is in heaven." He had ongoing/continual access to heavenly realms. Because of what He accomplished, we're to have the same access... I think that access comes with a renewed mind... (Romans 12:2)

    What role then do we serve as His body? Is it the proclamation of the Good News? I say frequently that the Good News without power isn't Good News... I guess I offend people when I say that. Paul said that his preaching and speaking were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but the power of God. (1 Cor 2:4-5) In 1 Cor 4:20, he goes on to say that the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in POWER...

    What did He, Jesus, mean in John 20:21 when He said, " the Father has sent Me, so also I send you."? Why did Jesus pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven..." What does "Without faith it is impossible to please Him..." mean? [Heb 11:6]

    What is involved with the renewing of the mind... (Romans 12:2)?

    We're busy doing what we can do in the natural. But I believe what I've indicated to you before, since we're part of His body, we need to be about our Father's business. We need in faith (operating in love) to be doing what we can't do in the natural. That way He gets the credit. We're to bring Heaven to earth... So whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in Heaven... BECAUSE YOU OPERATE FROM A HEAVENLY PERSPECTIVE... YOU HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST...

  2. You're right to a degree, Joe. But I think you're missing my point. All I want to do is relate what the Scripture says as opposed to what people want it to say. We are all aware of the damage that perspective can cause. Regardless of how you want to interpret the outcome, the verse says we can't do anything down here that is not first accomplished in heaven. In other words, we are not able to bind here so that it will be bound in heaven. We can bind here only if it has already been bound in heaven. From my perspective, anyone who practices otherwise is actually, in their quest for power, limiting what God can and will do through us.